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Ponaganset 2 West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich Co-op 0

March 19, 2016
Curtis Briggs (#33) makes one of his 12 saves on the night while surrounded by teammates Brett Marceau (#3) and Josh D'Alessio (#18) as Ponaganset defeated West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich, 2-0, in Game 1 of the Rhode Island Division III Finals.

Curtis Briggs (#33) makes one of his 12 saves on the night while surrounded by teammates Brett Marceau (#3) and Josh D’Alessio (#18) as Ponaganset defeated West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich, 2-0, in Game 1 of the Rhode Island Division III Finals. (photo courtesy of The Providence Journal/Glenn Osmundson)

(Providence, RI)  Buoyed by a smothering defense that allowed, only, 12 shots on net, Ponaganset moved to within one game of the Rhode Island Division III championship Friday night with a 2-0 blanking of West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich at Meehan Auditorium.

Senior co-captain Nate Morin put the Chieftains (20-1) on the scoreboard at the 6:23 mark of the first period, courtesy of an assist from junior Josh D’Alessio. D’Alessio notched his second assist of the night, only 1:05 into the second stanza, setting up freshman Ryan Watts, one of the leading scorers in the state, for the final margin of victory.

With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the Wizards pulled their goalie and, after Ponaganset was assessed a penalty, WW/EWG had a 6-on-4 man advantage. However, the Chieftains showed, again, why they were the top defensive team in the state and one of the best in the nation (20 goals allowed in 20 games, including playoffs) as the Wizards failed to get a shot on net, despite the two-man advantage.

Sophomore goaltender Curtis Briggs turned aside every attempt on net to register his ninth, overall, shutout of the season and fourth in his last five outings. Despite the lack of offense from his ice-mates, WW/EWG (17-4) net-minder Jared Olson had a fine evening between the pipes, denying 21 of 23 Ponaganset chances.

Despite the recent bad blood between two of the top three teams in Division III over the past three seasons, Game 1 of the division finals was, relatively, penalty-free, with, only, three players sent to the penalty box for game infractions.

The Chieftains can clinch their first hockey championship since the 2000 Division II title on Saturday, March 19, as both teams will square off at 8PM ET, again, at Meehan Auditorium. If WW/EWG can knot the series Saturday night, the winner-take-all matchup is scheduled for Monday, March 21, at 8PM ET.

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